There is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist. You know the type- struggling to readjust to reality, where no one brings you frosty pink drinks, your shoes are no longer filled with sand, and the fabulous beachy hair is a thing of the past. This week, that type is me. Donít judge. Youíve been there too: bitten by the vacation bug and on a quest to dig your toes in the sand, curl up with a good book, and just be away.†
So last week, in our efforts to pass our own vacation bugs onto our children (and because itís just really hot here lately), we packed our car to the brim- overflowing with floaties and swimmies and the fixings for piŮa coladas- and drove to the beach. The Gulf Coast, to be specific. The very same beach I grew up going to every summer: sugar white sand and the best seafood (period), standing on your toes and straining to see Mexico across the water. I could write love stories about the Gulf. Poetry. Novels. Instead, I blast Sublime with my windows rolled down and revel in the clichť. Because Iím at the beach. On vacation. Bring it on.
Since having kids, our trip down the beach is completely different every summer. Itís the evolution of my childrenís personalities, their ages, the letís-eat-sand quotient that tapers off around two. Last summer, our Little One was eight weeks old. (Thatís how serious we take vacations around here. Eight weeks old, no sleep in sight? To the beach!) This summer was the best yet: my older daughter is at last old enough to want to concentrate on the intricate seashell details of her sand castle for hours on end and my youngest is content to literally just sit in the sand and hold a shovel. It was awesome. Here. Hold this shovel for five hours.
And so for our week at the beach, a week that passed much too quickly, we just relaxed. (Well. As much as you can with two kids, which surprisingly, was a lot more than weíd anticipated.) I kept a constant supply of Sangria at our fingertips. We played miniature golf. We ate like kings. We had dinner rolls, literally as big as my kidís head, thrown at us from across a restaurant. We drank more Sangria. We slept in. We collected seashells and flew kites and indulged in world-class people watching from behind our shades. (Itís no Venice Beach, but itís certainly interesting.) We took our four-year-old on her very first rollercoaster (and didnít scar her for life too much).
Oh, and hey. We even spent a day in Pensacola at the Naval Aviation museum- and saw a Blue Angels “practice” show. (But really, it sort of blows “practice” out of the water. They break the sound barrier. Sonic booms. Crazy maneuvers and flying in formation. Amazing.)
Just like with our mountain trip last month, I didnít worry too much about my camera. I used my DSLR. I fought with my point-and-shoot. I snapped pictures with my camera phone. Whatever. It wasnít a wedding- it was vacationÖ and it was lovely. Sure, I still intuitively frame things in my mind every single moment of the day. And yes, I bribe my children into cooperating for just one more pictureÖ Aaaaand sometimes bribery works out better than other times.
But the beach. It was a perfect week. No sharks. Lots of oysters. (On my dinner plate. Not in the ocean.) Endless “Summer Rental” movie quote wars between the Husband and me. (Click it. You know you want to.) My parents came down for the last part of the week, and it was the best dťjŗ vu to watch my dad with my daughter, running straight into the ocean like two peas in a pod- just like he did with my brother and me when we were kids. Awesome, perfect week. Also. The French are onto something, guys. Thirty days of guaranteed vacation time every year? Sign me up. Iíd totally wear a beret for that.
†There is probably no more obnoxious class of citizen, taken end for end, than the returning vacationist. ~Robert Benchley